A Solar Science Timeline – sunspots, cycles, and solar wind

By Miles Hatfield – Re-Blogged From WUWT

Humankind has studied the Sun for millennia. Ancient Babylonians recorded eclipses on stone tablets. Renaissance scientists peered through telescopes, tracking sunspots. Eventually we took to space, and the first satellites captured solar particles streaming past Earth.

Each generation ran against the limits of their tools. So they built new ones, and a new bounty of questions emerged. Today, cutting-edge solar research can still trace its lineage to the efforts of early, Earth-bound Sun-watchers who were just as eager to understand our closest star. This is an abridged story of that scientific history: A genealogy of the advances that led to solar science as we know it today.

View an interactive version of this timeline.


1375 BCE – 1543 CE — EARLY HISTORY OF SOLAR SCIENCE

eclipse tablet

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Quiet Sun Sets New Record for Spotless Days

Re-Blogged From WUWT

[Deep solar minima have been associated with colder climates. The Dalton Minimum and Maunder Minimum both were part of the Little Ice Age which ended maybe 200 years ago. Better get a good overcoat. –Bob]

As of November 1st, the current stretch of days without any observable sunspots in solar cycle 24 has reached a total of 228 spotless days in 2019 so far That’s 75% of the year so far. During the 2008 solar minimum, there were 268 days without sunspots, or 73% of the year.

The sun as seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on Oct 31 2019

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This kind of solar storm could be devastating in today’s world…”The Carrington Event” of 1859

By Paul Dorian – Re-Blogged From Perspecta Weather

Overview

The sun continues to be very quiet and it has been without sunspots this year 69% of the time as we approach what is likely to be one of the deepest solar minimums in a long, long time. In fact, all indications are that the upcoming solar minimum may be even quieter than the last one which was the deepest in nearly a century.  In addition, there are now forecasts that the next solar cycle, #25, will be the weakest in more than 200 years. Even weak solar cycles, however, can produce significant solar storms. In fact, it was this same time of year back in 1859 when a super solar storm – now known as the “Carrington Event” – took place during another weak solar cycle (#10).  The event has been named for the British astronomer, Richard Carrington, as he observed from his own private observatory the largest solar flare which caused a major coronal mass ejection (CME) to travel directly toward Earth.  Fortunately, solar storms of this magnitude are quite rare as it would very likely have a much more damaging impact on today’s world than it did in the 19th century.

 

A modern solar flare recorded December 5, 2006, by the X-ray Imager onboard NOAA's GOES-13 satellite. The flare was so intense that it actually damaged the instrument that took the picture. Researchers believe Carrington's solar flare was much more energetic than this one.

A modern solar flare recorded December 5, 2006, by the X-ray Imager onboard NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite. The flare was so intense that it actually damaged the instrument that took the picture. Researchers believe Carrington’s solar flare was much more energetic than this one.

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Climate Change Could Revive Medieval Megadroughts in US Southwest

By Earth Institute at Columbia U – Re-Blogged From EurekAlert

About a dozen megadroughts struck the American Southwest during the 9th through the 15th centuries, but then they mysteriously ceased around the year 1600. What caused this clustering of megadroughts — that is, severe droughts that last for decades — and why do they happen at all?

If scientists can understand why megadroughts happened in the past, it can help us better predict whether, how, and where they might happen in the future. A study published today in Science Advances provides the first comprehensive theory for why there were megadroughts in the American Southwest. The authors found that ocean temperature conditions plus high radiative forcing — when Earth absorbs more sunlight than it radiates back into space — play important roles in triggering megadroughts. The study suggests an increasing risk of future megadroughts in the American Southwest due to climate change.

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A Perfect Storm of Cosmic Rays

Ten years ago, NASA reported a “perfect storm of cosmic rays.” During the year 2009, radiation peppering Earth from deep space reached a 50-year high, registering levels never before seen during the Space Age.

It’s about to happen again.

Ground-based neutron monitors and high-altitude cosmic ray balloons are registering a new increase in cosmic rays. The Oulu neutron monitor in Finland, which has been making measurements since 1964, reports levels in April 2019 only percentage points below the Space Age maximum of 2009:

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Neutrons Over the USA

Re-Blogged From Space Weather

[Experiments at CERN are showing that Cosmic Rays are responsible for much rain droplet formation. Quieter Sun means less Solar Wind, which allows in more Cosmic Rays, which means more Clouds & Rain. Interesting stuff. -Bob]

Want to experience space weather? Just step onboard an airplane. At typical cruising altitudes, cosmic rays from deep space penetrate the hulls of commercial jetliners, dosing passengers with levels of radiation comparable to dental X-rays. To measure this radiation, Spaceweather.com has been flying cosmic ray sensors onboard airplanes over 5 continents. Our latest results show something interesting about the continental USA.


Above: Neutrons detected during a flight from Portland to DC on April 9,2019.

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